Ghana’s Upper East Region might be in the headlines any time soon for a grim reason as government continues to close its eyes to a disaster that is likely to strike within the foreseeable future.
A bridge which links two districts in the region— Bongo and Kassena-Nankana West— is about to cave in.
The bridge, found between Zorkor Kodorogo in Bongo and Sirigu in the Kassena-Nankana West, is dangerously still in use as road users have no alternative.
More than half of the roadway on the bridge has already collapsed.
The remains of the bridge— which road users are riskily making do with currently— are just about the size of an average tabletop or the stretcher used for carrying ill or injured players during a football match.
On Wednesday, 9 August 2023, an early-morning heavy downpour overfilled the course of a river that runs under the bridge from a source in Burkina Faso towards Ghana’s south.
The flood waters held back many workers, schoolchildren and traders on both sides of the river.
“I work at Sirigu. I couldn’t go [to work] because of the flooding. The teachers who came from Sirigu to our primary school could not go home because of the flooding. And now, the road is being washed away.
“The other side of the bridge is about caving in. And I don’t know what will happen when the next rain comes,” the Assembly Member of Zorkor Kodorogo, Pius Atiah, told Media Without Borders.
A frustrated resident of Zorkor Kodorogo, Azubire Job Apobelum, disclosed that the members of the community had resolved upon preventing all political parties from entering the area to campaign for the 2024 general elections.
“What we are planning to do is that, if they don’t come to our aid, during politics, we will do what we can to prevent all political parties from entering into our territory because they don’t want development.
“How can we be voting all the time without any sign of development? It is actually very bad. It’s a deathtrap to the two communities, and I could say the two districts,” he said.
The gradual collapse of the bridge started three years ago, according to the Assembly Member.
And it has taken the community the same number of years to cry on government to deal with the problem.
But the nothing came out of the efforts made so far— engaging local government authorities and taking media houses to the ground.
“The bridge has been in this condition for three years. I informed the then-DCE. That was Peter Ayinbisa. He did his best. He came there with the engineer of the district assembly. From there I waited and nothing was happening. So, I had to get the media men. I called GTV. They came and took videos, and they aired it more than three times. I didn’t hear anything.
“I had to call TV3. And they, too, did the same thing. And the last media that I consulted was TV Africa. They, too, came and took videos. So, when the current DCE, Rita Atanga, came, we informed her. She also went to the Regional Coordinating Council and the Highways engineer came and inspected it. From there, we didn’t hear anything till now,” Atiah stated.
He added: “And now that the rains have started, when you get there, you can’t cross to Sirigu. Now, workers from Sirigu cannot cross to Zorkor. The same thing applies to workers in Zorkor here. So, my appeal is that if there is a way out, whether NGO or the government, they can come and assist us so that the problem of crossing the bridge will not be there anymore.”
When contacted, the District Chief Executive (DCE) of Bongo, Rita Atanga, told Media Without Borders she had notified the central government about the state of the bridge.
“I have forwarded pictures to the national level as well. I’m sure they are looking at it. It’s something we have already taken up. We have other projects coming up. We will put the bridge among those projects that are coming up.
“Very soon, we will be putting it under some projects we already have funding for. But I have also spoken to the Feeder Roads manager about it,” the DCE said.
The Minister for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Attah, did not answer telephone calls placed to him by Media Without Borders for comments regarding the state of the bridge.
Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org